The O.C. Goes Global



Mix together an alcoholic fashionista, a quirky comic book geek, a good-hearted guy from the wrong side of the tracks and a flighty, popular high school student, and you instantly have the components of Fox’s hit television show The O.C. This teen drama premiered in August 2003 and quickly developed into one of the hottest shows on the air. The show’s 27 year-old creator and executive producer, Josh Schwartz, became the “youngest person in network history to create a network series and run the day-to-day production” while his program similarly had unprecedented success.

Who’s watching The O.C.?With writing that would seem targeted primarily at female audiences, the show has won over a surprising number of male viewers. At times, it would appear the male interest exceeds that of the female admirers.Whether introduced to the show by their girlfriends, word of mouth or after seeing Mischa Barton naked in Fastlane, many Colgate guys were hooked from the beginning, and they are definitely not ashamed to admit it. Senior Ben Fishel, one of the many loud and proud O.C. fans, explains, “I have made many new friends simply because I watch the show. I also joined a group on dedicated to watching The O.C.” Male enthusiasm is further bolstered by the fact that most watch in the company of friends and fraternity brothers, rather than alone. Junior Tristan Kessler watches the show with friends and refreshments, while another anonymous senior claims to watch each episode four times. It would seem likely that male interest is solely a response to the beautiful actors and sexual tension. However, various elements, ranging from interesting writing to character development, attracts this demographic.Many of The O.C.’s female fans have noticed that they are not the only ones watching. While some may find it abnormal, most seem to find its male following quite amusing. Junior Emily Colahan says, “I find it a little weird that my guy friends from home have all the episodes downloaded and watch them all. But hey, it’s one girly show that guys can’t make fun of you for watching.”If nothing else, Schwartz’s creation is one of the few television shows over which guys and girls alike can bond.

The Real O.C.In addition to attracting a diverse group of fans, the O.C. has also brought about a new-found love and intrigue for California.The series depicts not only the daily dilemmas of these attractive teens, but also the lavish lifestyles of this region in California, equipped with Range Rovers and multi-million dollar homes. The television show has developed into a cultural phenomenon, and it has undoubtedly shaped preconceptions about what Orange County, an actual California location, is like. The real Orange County is made up of 34 cities, one of which is Newport Beach, the town portrayed in the show. With a median family income of $72,985 and a population consisting of mostly white residents, the homogeneity and wealth depicted in the show is not completely unwarranted.Junior Mary Acoymo, a resident of Orange County, admits that “the idea of Newport Beach being filled with rich, good looking people is pretty true. People are really fashion-conscious, and I think it is an overall mix of a chill, relaxed attitude with a slight city feel.” While the actual and fictional O.C. correspond in terms of its portrayal of people, lifestyle and setting, the show is not filmed in the actual county, but rather in Redondo Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles. And although the stereotypes of Orange County teenagers portrayed on The O.C. might be somewhat accurate, people assume that California is one big version of The O.C.If someone were to venture farther north in California, they would as soon assume they were in another country. Take Ripon for example. Located in the heart of the Central Valley, this almond grower’s haven, with a population of 10,000, more closely resembles Hamilton than any location filmed in The O.C.While most students at Colgate are intelligent enough to realize that The O.C. isn’t representative of the entire state of California, cultural stereotypes still pervade many of their views about the west coast. It is not uncommon for a Californian to be asked in a conversation if they surf or if they live by the beach. There is even a stereotypical Californian: he’s a surfer with blond hair and blue eyes, tan skin and Hawaiian print board shorts to top off the look. Cultural stereotypes are most apparent when studying abroad. Ironically, the inhabitants of London clubs and bars could describe The O.C. in detail but could not locate California on a map.Junior Meghaan Walsh, who is currently abroad in Wales, comments about The O.C., saying, “There are a ton of people who are obsessed with it! They seem to think that that’s what all of Cali’s like, but not necessarily all of America.” Yet, it seems that not only California has a stereotype. Says Walsh: “A few guys we were talking to asked if everyone in America wears cowboy hats, or if you have to wear one when you’re in Texas … we were like, ‘Um, no.’ Most people have been really open and receptive when they hear we’re from the US, but I haven’t heard many assumptions/stereotypes. They might just be thinking them.”

Next Up on The O.C.A current hot topic amongst O.C. fans is the possible development of a lesbian affair between Marissa Cooper and Alex, a recent addition to the O.C. cast. Despite a trend of over-the-top situations and dilemmas, this new twist goes one step further.The male response, which one assumes would be uniformly in favor, is actually quite mixed.Junior Tom Vance thinks that “lesbians are cool, but I’m die-hard fan, so I think it’s a catchy cop-out to get more viewers.”Several other Colgate guys agreed that this affair is merely a tease. Regardless of how they feel about this subplot, they remain dutiful fans and tune in regularly. Decide for yourself Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.